Historic Rotorua Lakehouse Hotel was the ‘place to be‘

Work has started to pull down Rotorua‘s historic Lakehouse Hotel, which is being taken down gradually due to significant structural and safety concerns with the building.

The Lakehouse was bought by Pukeroa Oruawhata Group at mortgagee auction in 2007 and the group has explored various development options.

However, Pukeroa Oruawhata chairman Malcolm Short said independent reports had highlighted significant problems with the building, including major seismic deficiencies with its foundations and structure.

“Unfortunately, put quite simply, the building is a real and significant safety concern.

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“Because of this, we have made the decision to deconstruct the building and this has been signalled to our owners.”

The Lakehouse Hotel was built almost 170 years ago above Ohinemutu village. Photo/Stephen Parker facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

Pukeroa Oruawhata commissioned an independent heritage architect to review the building and Heritage New Zealand has also supported the review‘s findings.

Short said the cost of upgrading the Lakehouse to meet modern earthquake standards was prohibitive.

“In addition, there would be extensive additional costs to bring the building up to modern building standards.

“Before the deconstruction began, the building had been closed because of health and safety concerns. Deconstruction of the Lakehouse is the only option to ensure public safety.”

Short said the building was not heritage listed but Pukeroa Oruawhata was working closely with Heritage New Zealand to record the deconstruction and any heritage elements.

The former Lakehouse Hotel was once the place to be. Photo/Stephen Parker facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

Most of the historical elements of the building had been removed or altered by previous owners over time, he said.

The deconstruction is being observed and recorded by an archaeologist, to gain greater information and understanding of building practices of the time.

“The building will be dismantled largely by hand, with key features, joinery and wood salvaged for storage and reuse where possible.”

Short said the aim of the project was to make the site safe and Pukeroa Oruawhata had no immediate development plans for the area.

Information on the site‘s history would be curated and put on information boards which would be erected on the cleared land, Short said.

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Down the road Patrick‘s Bakery owner Patrick Rattigan said the building had already been empty for a really long time.

“In a way I feel sad, it‘s such a lovely old building, but saying that I can see it would need a lot of restoration.”

Rattigan said it would be nice to see something of the same nature go up in its place.

“It‘s got such a lovely view and it‘s in the perfect place.

“My mother-in-law remembers it as the place to be, she‘d go there for dinner and dancing.”

Jade Phillips‘ stepfather has worked next door to the Lakehouse Hotel at Pomare Electrical for the last 36 years.

Rotorua‘s former Lakehouse Hotel is undergoing deconstruction. Photo/Stephen Parker facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

“I think it‘s a little bit sad to see it go, it is historic.

“I‘ve been to hens‘ nights and 21st birthday parties, all of the older guys hung out there, it was the place to be.”

Phillips said for the last few weeks trucks had been taking parts of the building away but she thought the plan was to repair it.

“When they do take it down I‘d like to see it replaced by something similar.

“Maybe plan something aimed at the tourists, because we do get a lot of them around here.”

A former Lakehouse owner, who asked not to be named, is now working as part of the deconstruction team.

A photograph of the Lakehouse Hotel taken in the early 1900s. Photo/Supplied facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

“I was disappointed, but Pukeroa did everything they possibly could.

“They spent way above the due diligence to research and see what they could do for the building.”

The deconstruction process has revealed new issues with the building, he said.

“All people have done is 170 years of cover-ups, it‘s structurally buggered really.

“The materials are being utilised and saved and a lot of that will go back into Ohinemutu.”

Despite being tremendously sad to see the building go, he said little of the original was even left.

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